Print
XClose
Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Vice President's Secretariat
03 JAN 2022 1:07PM by PIB Delhi
Dire need to inculcate spirit of service in youth: Vice President

The Vice President, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu said there is a dire need to inculcate the spirit of service from a young age in the youth and urged schools to make community service compulsory for students once normalcy returns.

Speaking at an event organised to mark the 150th anniversary of Saint Chavara at Mannanam in Kottayam today, the Vice President said that once this pandemic is behind us, the government schools as well as those in the private sector must make community service of at least two to three weeks compulsory for students. “It would help them to develop an attitude of sharing and caring in their interaction with others”, he added.

Shri Naidu emphasised that the philosophy of share-and-care is at the core of India’s age-old culture and must be widely propagated. “For us, the whole world is one family as encapsulated in our timeless ideal, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. It is with this spirit that we should move forward together”, he said.

While pointing out that every person has the right to practice and preach his or her faith in the country, the Vice President said “Practice your religion but don’t abuse and indulge in hate speech and writings”. He expressed his disapproval of attempts to ridicule other religions and create dissensions in the society.

Observing that hate speech and writings are against culture, heritage, traditions, constitutional rights and ethos, Shri Naidu said that secularism is in the blood of every India and the country is respected world over for its culture and heritage. In this context, the Vice President called for strengthening the Indian value system.

Urging youngsters to imbibe, protect and promote Indian cultural values, he highlighted the importance of India’s philosophy of sharing and caring for others. He said that living for others will not only give a person a lot of satisfaction but will also make the people remember that person for a long time for his or her good deeds.

Shri Naidu also advised youngsters to remain physically fit by doing yoga or any other form of physical exercise and “to love and live with nature”. He asked them to protect nature and preserve culture for a better future.

Paying tributes to Saint Chavara, he said “this iconic spiritual and social leader of Kerala, whom people considered as a saint during his lifetime, was a true visionary in every sense of the term”. He said that Saint Chavara engaged himself as a spiritual, educational, social, and cultural reformer of Kerala society in the 19th century and contributed richly to the social reawakening of the people.

Stating that Saint Chavara contributed immensely to achieving communal harmony and tolerance in society, Shri Naidu said that he always showed a deep concern for the wellbeing of all and taught us that peaceful human relationships are sacred and more important than anything else. “Today, we need a Chavara in every community—a towering individual with a vision to unite all sections of society socially and culturally, and take the country forward”, he stressed. 

Urging all states to take a cue from Kerala in the fields of education, social justice and women’s empowerment, the Vice President said that every state can be transformed into an engine of growth and progress which can be achieved through the social and educational empowerment of women and youth belonging to poorer sections of society.

He also emphasised that the benefits of development must percolate down to the last man in the most backward and impoverished segments of our socio-economic order as spelt out in the philosophy of Antyodaya articulated by the visionary thinker, activist and reformer, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.

Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri V Muraleedharan, Minister for Cooperation and Registration, Government of Kerala, Shri V N Vasavan, former Chief Minister of Kerala and Member of Legislative Assembly, Shri Oommen Chandy, Member of Parliament, Shri Thomas Chazhikadan, Prior General, Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, Shri Rev. Fr. Thomas Chathamparampil and others were present on the occasion.

Following is the full text of the speech:

“Dear sisters and brothers,

We have gathered here to remember and pay our respects to Saint Chavara who is popularly referred to as Chavara Pithavu, a term which serves as a reflection of the reverence accorded to him. This iconic spiritual and social leader of Kerala, whom people considered as a saint during his lifetime, was a true visionary in every sense of the term. Saint Chavara engaged himself as a spiritual, educational, social, and cultural reformer of Kerala society in the 19th century. Thus, he contributed richly to the social reawakening of the people.

Though the identity and vision of Saint Chavara were shaped and formed on the ideals of his Catholic faith, his deeds of social and educational services were not restricted to the progress and development of that community alone. At the beginning of the 19th century, with a firm belief in inclusivity, he started a Sanskrit school at Mannanam in 1846, which shows his open-mindedness of vision. Through this bold and unconventional move, he opened up access to Sanskrit to aspiring candidates of all castes, genders and religions. Thus, the Sanskrit School showcased an ideal pluralistic community whose members were brought together by a shared desire to learn.

Another path-breaking initiative was the concept of pallikoodam which translated into the setting up of a school alongside every parish church. Such schools initiated in 1864 were open also to children from all communities. The students who received basic education at these schools were also given mid-day meal. This practice had a great impact on the educational efforts at that time as it encouraged the parents to enrol their children in the school. 

Saint Chavara contributed immensely to achieving communal harmony and tolerance in society. Being a person with an affable disposition and endowed with simplicity and kindness, he won friends from all walks of life. He always showed a deep concern for the wellbeing of all. Importantly, Chavara taught us that peaceful human relationships are sacred and more important than anything else. Today, we need a Chavara in every community—a towering individual with a vision to unite all sections of society socially and culturally, and take the country forward. 

Chavara’s spirituality was in harmony with his vision of science and technology for the common masses. St. Joseph’s Press, established by Chavara here in the year 1846, the first non-government press in Kerala is a good example. It was not a mere setting up of the press. His print house with indigenised technology broke the European monopoly over printing. The printing machine which played a key role in dissemination of knowledge to the common masses conveyed a message to the people—to take pride in self-reliance and be vocal about local. It was by all means Kerala’s prototype initiative in terms of swadeshi and Atmanirbar Bharat. 

In the domain of women’s empowerment, with his farsightedness, Saint Chavara provided opportunities for female education and self-reliance by establishing the Carmelite convents and various self-employment training schemes in the mid-19th century. The first task of the nuns was to educate the girls in the region. The formation of edukantat (boarding house) in 1868 was another milestone initiative for realizing this purpose. Women increasingly came forward to join this program which was to bring about a path-breaking social revolution in the years to come. They were taught Malayalam, Tamil, English and Latin. Also, they were trained in various skills like rosary-making, flower-making, sewing, knitting, cooking, music, mathematics and needle work.

Saint Chavara believed that every individual had the right to an honourable life irrespective his/her caste, creed or gender. He also believed that old age, ill-health, poverty and destitution should not deprive anyone of the right to live in joy and die in peace. Thus, he paved the way in 1869 to start a Dharamshala or upavisala (home for the destitute) at Kainakary in Alappuzha district.  Another humanitarian step was the pidiyari (handful of rice) movement, a unique resource mobilization and public distribution system which encouraged people to save a handful (pidi) of rice from their everyday provision for the starving and needy.

Chavara had a passion for learning and reading. He was a scholar in several languages including Sanskrit, English and Portuguese. Chavara treated literature as a powerful means of energising people and his writings are rich in poetic flavour replete with profound spiritual and mystical insights.

As a reformer of families, he wrote authoritatively long before the development of behavioural science about family life: Testament of a loving Father -Oru Nalla Appante Chaavarul- contains tenets for building strong, deep family bonds. The foremost among his appeals in this work was, “a day you have not helped another person shall not be counted in your life”.

Saint Chavara’s accomplishments are many—among them is the founding, along with fellow-priests, of the first Christian indigenous religious congregation for men here at Mannanam known today as Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) on 11thMay 1831 and a religious congregation for women called Congregation of Mother Carmel (CMC) on 13 February 1866.

Saint Chavara combined the spirit of the renaissance with the mission of charity and noble Christian concept of universal brotherhood. I am happy that the involvement of these congregations in the educational and health fields in the South as well as in North India has grown from strength to strength fulfilling the vision of their founder.

I would like to take this opportunity to urge other states to take a cue from Kerala in the fields of education, social justice and women’s empowerment as outlined in the pioneering initiatives of Saint Chavara and Narayana Guru. Their pathbreaking work proves that every state can be transformed into an engine of growth and progress and that this can be achieved through the social and educational empowerment of women and youth belonging to poorer sections of society. As I often say, the benefits of development must percolate down to the last man in the most backward and impoverished segments of our socio-economic order as spelt out in the philosophy of Antyodaya articulated by the visionary thinker, activist and reformer, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.

Today, there is a dire need to inculcate the spirit of service from a young age in the youth of this country. Once this pandemic is behind us and normalcy returns, I would suggest that government schools as well as those in the private sector must make community service of at least two to three weeks compulsory for students. It would help them to develop an attitude of sharing and caring in their interaction with others.

As a matter-of-fact, the philosophy of share-and-care is at the core of India’s age-old culture and must be widely propagated. For us, the whole world is one family as encapsulated in our timeless ideal, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. It is with this spirit that we should move forward together.

Thank You.

Jai Hind!”

*****

MS/RK